Femi Falana has called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to probe the spending of ecological funds amid the devastating flooding in parts of the country.
Speaking on Monday at the convocation lecture of the Augustine University, Ilara, Lagos, the human rights lawyer said the mismanagement of the funds was a crime against humanity.
“The mismanagement of ecological fund is a crime against humanity because it is responsible for the loss of many lives, displacement of millions of people, and destruction of properties worth trillions of Naira,” Mr Falana said.
He added, “Before the proposed probe by the EFCC the Federal Government should come to the aid of the affected state governments. However, the EFCC should probe the involvement of officials of the Federal Government and state governments.”
Recall that a former Plateau governor, Joshua Dariye, was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2018 for diverting N1.162 billion in state ecological funds while he was governor between 1999 and 2007.
Mr Dariye, 65, was later granted state pardon four years after by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Nigeria is currently facing one of its worst flooding incidents in decades, with over 600 lives lost to the incident and billions of properties destroyed.
Anambra, Kogi, Delta, Benue, Yobe, Cross River, and Bayelsa States are the worst hit by the ravaging flood.
At least, more than a million persons have been displaced from their homes and are now taking refugees at IDP camps as both government and private infrastructural were affected by the flooding.
President Buhari’s regime has also insisted that it would not declare any “state of emergency” in the states affected by the flood disaster.
Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, had recently blamed the flooding as an “act of God” and attributed some of the cases to years of disregard for nature and proper planning.
Speaking on the topic, “Remaking Nigeria: The Youth as Change-Agents”, Mr Falana lambasted the Buhari regime for failing to release money from the ecological fund to the affected states.
The human rights lawyer also opined that it was wrong for the regime to ask citizens to hold state governments accountable for the disaster.
“In particular, the federal government has failed to release money from the ecological fund to the affected states. On their own part, the various state governments have equally failed to provide relief materials for the victims.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government did not ask the citizens to hold the state governments to account for funds meant for building and equipping hospitals,” Mr Falana posited.
He, however, asked the federal government to ensure that measures to mitigate flooding become a top priority in the interest of the citizens.
On Monday, Mr Buhari broke his silence over the flooding and ordered that the minister of water resources come up with a comprehensive action plan for the prevention of the flood disaster in Nigeria within three months.
Created in 1985, the ecological fund office is under the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
The funds include one percent of the federation account and it is known as the derivation and ecology fund.
The focus of the office is to have a pool of funds that would be solely devoted to the funding of ecological projects to mitigate serious ecological problems.
In 2021, the federal executive council approved N16.04 billion in ecological fund projects across 12 states including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for soil erosion/flood and pollution control interventions.
In January 2022, the FEC also approved contract awards for flood control in the six geo-political zones.
While revealing this, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, said 14 ecological project contracts were approved for N15.1 billion for flood control in the six geo-political zones.